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Prospective Undergraduate Students

Field Experience Course with Drs. Mike Aust and Kevin McGuire

Field Experience Course with Drs. Mike Aust and Kevin McGuire
Field Experience Course with Drs. Mike Aust and Kevin McGuire

The Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation (FREC) at Virginia Tech is one of the top forestry and natural resource management and conservation programs in the United States . Our exceptional education, research, and outreach programs are diverse and approach critical natural resource issues from many perspectives. Undergraduate degrees focus on using the latest research and technology to manage and conserve our forests and natural resources wisely for the benefit of society.

Small class sizes and faculty dedicated to teaching afford FREC students the chance to get to know their professors personally. Wide varieties of academic and professional opportunities are available through undergraduate research, study abroad, student organizations, and public outreach programs. Through five majors with multiple options, study opportunities are offered in everything from forest management and urban forestry to the human dimensions of natural resources, environmental informatics, and water resources.   

Programs of study in Forestry include three tracks focused on forest management and are accredited by the Society of American Foresters (SAF), the national scientific and educational organization representing the forestry profession in the United States.

Students in the Forest Resources Management Track gain expertise in the biological and social sciences needed to make sound management decisions concerning regeneration, growth, protection, management, and sustainability of forest ecosystems. Graduates pursue careers in the forest industry, public agencies, non-governmental agencies, and private forestry companies.

In the Forest Operations and Business Track, students prepare to take an active role in assuring that the sale, harvest, and conversion of standing timber to products is done in an efficient, economic, safe, and environmentally sound manner. Graduates pursue careers in forest industry, national and state forest services, forestry consulting firms, and the equipment industry.

Students in the Urban and Community Forestry Track gain expertise in the management of forest resources in cities, towns, and other urbanized environments. The program emphasizes interdisciplinary perspectives and students take classes in Horticulture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Affairs and Planning to customize a curriculum that supports their career goals. Graduates pursue careers in municipal forestry, commercial tree care, utility vegetation management, urban environmental consulting, public agencies, and nonprofit organizations. For more information visit Urban Forestry at Virginia Tech.

Programs of study in Environmental Conservation and Society prepare students for a broad array of natural resource careers with an emphasis on social sciences and public communication. 

The Recreation and Tourism Management Option prepares students to be the managers, planners, and program administrators who deal with today’s complex conservation challenges. Courses in ecological, natural, and social sciences, planning, tourism, and business management, are combined with a deep understanding of recreation resources. Graduates pursue careers in government and non-government organizations as well as commercial recreation and green businesses.

The Education and Outreach Option offers a balance of natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities to give students a well-rounded base of knowledge about the natural world. Graduates pursue careers in nature education, environmental interpretation, resource education, and communications, or they may pursue a license for an elementary education career.

Leadership and Sustainability Option

Environmental Informatics applies data analysis, computational modeling, and information science to study the environment and manage natural resources. Students in the Environmental Data Science Major gain expertise in the environment and in the computational and analytical approaches to solve environmental challenges, including geographic information, mathematical and statistical modeling, remote sensing, database management, knowledge integration, and decision making. 

Students in the Environmental Resource Management Major gain expertise in managing environmental resources from a wide variety of environmental perspectives, including forest resources, soils, water, environmental law, policy and planning, and environmental economics. Graduates pursue careers in public agencies, private industry, and firms that deal with forested wetland protection, endangered species, the urban-rural interface, and sustainability.

Students are encouraged to pursue minors in Watershed Management, Urban and Community Forestry, Forestry or others to provide in-depth expertise in a given area.

Virginia Tech’s bachelor of science degree in Water: Resources, Policy, and Management addresses the protection and development of water resources by providing the interdisciplinary training required to meet water challenges  and opportunities now and in the future. The degree is overseen by an advising committee with representatives from five colleges.

The Blue Planet minor: Water connects society and the environment through energy, food, climate, ecological, health, and economic systems and is therefore vital for sustaining human life. Issues such as drought, flooding, sanitation, and contamination exist on every continent and touch every citizen on the planet. Sustainably managing water resources is a complex challenge that requires knowledge from a wide range of academic disciplines.

The Blue Planet minor is an interdisciplinary program that includes courses from several departments, ensuring that students gain the necessary perspective required to solve the myriad of water problems being confronted by diverse societies. Courses for the minor show students the interconnectedness of water policy, planning, science, and sustainability and orients them to a diversity of perspectives for solving water issues. Blue Planet is a Pathways Minor.

The Climate and Society minor: Climate change is a growing global threat with complex societal, environmental, and economic impacts. This minor will equip students with the skills and knowledge needed to understand the science, causes, and impacts of climate change as well as the actions needed to mitigate and/or adapt to climate change from both environmental and social perspectives. The minor includes coursework in physical/natural sciences, environment and ecosystems, and human dimensions and policy and policy, as well as the option to explore additional coursework on methodological approaches that will provide students with the capacity to understand and analyze climate change impacts on society and the environment. 

The Ecological Cities minor: The Ecological Cities minor encourages students to explore ways to integrate the natural world with built environments, which requires innovation, teamwork, and a new type of professional. Courses in the minor help students understand the breadth of the ecological, social, and design challenges inherent in creating these new urban environments while also having the skills to work in interdisciplinary teams to design better solutions. This minor will prepare students to critically analyze sustainable designs and practices in cities and their scientific and cultural underpinnings. Ecological Cities is a Pathways Minor. 

The Forestry minor is ideal for those in related natural resource fields such as wood products, fisheries, wildlife, and recreation who would like to broaden their ability to work with forest-related issues. Expertise is gained in ecology, forestry fundamentals, tree identification, and land measurements.

The Recreation minor in Natural Resource Recreation emphasizes the tools and perspectives needed to manage and maintain high quality recreation resources and experiences with emphasis on the ecology of the setting, the psychology of recreation experiences, and the management science behind trails, parks, scenery and facilities management.

The Urban and Community Forestry minor is especially suited to students majoring in environmental resource management, forestry, horticulture, landscape architecture, urban planning or other related fields who wish to develop expertise in managing forest resources in urbanized areas and learn to address the specific challenges related to trees in the built environment.

The Watershed Management minor integrates existing programs and courses from five colleges and 10 departments at Virginia Tech to provide an interdisciplinary and substantive understanding of watershed science, policy, and decision-making. By working with a faculty advisor, students can also select additional courses that will allow them to pursue careers in positions such as hydrologists or water quality managers with the USDA and other state and federal agencies.

The Wildland Fire Ecology minor encompasses knowledge and hands-on experience related to wildland fire behavior, ecology, management, and applied science. Wildland fire is a topic of immense interest today among forest scientists and managers and the public at large. Annually, wildfires impact approximately 10-12 million acres each year in the U.S. Prescribed fire acreage has also reached 10 million acres in some years and states within the southeastern U.S. typically contain most of that acreage. Students completing this minor will benefit from a better understanding of wildland fire as they prepare for careers in wildland fire or natural resource management. 


Jay Sullivan - Department Head and Professor,

Stacey Kuhar - Department Executive Assistant and Graduate Student Coordinator

CNRE Academic Advising

Student Organizations